Inter cancel Florida Cup participation due to coronavirus concerns

By Sports Desk July 21, 2021

Inter have cancelled their plans to travel to the United States for the Florida Cup as a precautionary measure amid growing concerns surrounding coronavirus.

The Nerazzurri's announcement follows Arsenal's statement on Tuesday as both clubs made the difficult decision to alter their pre-season plans.

The two sides were due to meet on July 25 before facing either Everton or Millonarios on July 28 in Orlando.

A club statement on their official website on Wednesday said: "FC Internazionale Milano announce that they will not be travelling to the USA for the Florida Cup due to the current risks involved in international travel as a result of the spread of the pandemic, risks that have already caused Arsenal F.C. to withdraw from participation."

Last season's Scudetto winners reconvened on July 8, though this time under new head coach Simone Inzaghi after Antonio Conte left the club by mutual consent in May. And their pre-season preparations hardly got off to the best start as they just about managed to edge out Swiss side Lugano on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Inzaghi's men get their title defence under way at home against Genoa on August 21 and have bolstered their ranks this transfer window - Hakan Calhanoglu has joined from local rivals Milan, Matteo Darmian made his move permanent from Parma and centre-back Zinho Vanheusden signed from Standard Liege.

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  • Juventus v Milan: Szczesny and defences in spotlight as Serie A history beckons Juventus v Milan: Szczesny and defences in spotlight as Serie A history beckons

    For so long, Juventus dominated Serie A and Milan. 

    Juve won nine successive Scudetti before being dethroned by Inter last season. Gianluigi Buffon was involved in eight of them. 

    But it's a period of change in Turin, where Wojciech Szczesny is well and truly under the microscope after an error-riddled start to the 2021-22 season. 

    As Juve struggle defensively, form could hardly be more contrasting heading into Sunday's blockbuster showdown in the northwest of Italy. 

    Milan have continued to be a solid defensive outfit, winning their opening three league fixtures, and the resurgent Rossoneri could strike an early dagger to the heart of the Old Lady.

     

    Woeful Woj as Allegri tries to avoid unwanted record 

    "I think Juventus will regret not signing Donnarumma for a long time." 

    That was Mino Raiola – the agent of Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – speaking to Rai Sport on Friday. Based on what has transpired so far, he is right. 

    The star Italy goalkeeper had been tipped to swap Milan for Juve in the off-season before moving to the French capital on a free transfer. Juve must be shaking their heads after watching Szczesny's torrid start to the season under Massimiliano Allegri. 

    Allegri has had his hands full since returning to Allianz Stadium after two seasons away, replacing Andrea Pirlo. The title-winning boss is trying to navigate the exit of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. If the departure of the almost-irreplaceable Ronaldo was not hard enough, Szczesny has made life even more difficult. 

    The former Arsenal keeper has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, his two howlers against Udinese and Napoli the catalyst for Juve's winless start to the campaign. 

    The Bianconeri could go without a victory in their first four Serie A seasonal matches for the fourth time in their history, after 1961-62, 1955-56 and 1942-43. In those campaigns, Juve did not go on to win the title. They have never lost three of the first four Serie A games in a season. 

    They have conceded five goals in three matches and are yet to keep a clean sheet domestically, shipping goals in each of their past 17 league games – only twice have Juve conceded in more consecutive Serie A fixtures (19 in 2010 and 21 in 1955). That 17-game run is the worst of its kind across the top-five European leagues since March. 

    Szczesny's numbers do not make for pretty reading.

    Since 2018-19, the Poland international has conceded 90 goals in 90 Serie A appearances with expected goals against (xGA) of 99.88, suggesting he should have let in nearly 10 goals more. For some comparison, Buffon's xGA-goals conceded difference – goals he prevented, in other words –was 2.62 from 17 matches, so Szczesny holds his own there.

    The numbers do not get much better, though. A maligned figure from his days at Arsenal, Szczesny has shipped 99 goals in 107 Serie A games for Juve. Since 1994-95, his average of 0.93 goals conceded is worse than ex-Juve goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (0.70 from 46 goals conceded in 66 games), Buffon (0.76 from 373 conceded in 489 matches), Michelangelo Rampulla (0.85 from 33 conceded in 39 fixtures) and Angelo Peruzzi (0.85 from 120 conceded in 141 appearances).

    Szczesny – with a save percentage of 72 and an average of 2.49 stops per 90 minutes – has committed three errors leading to goals during his time with Juve in Serie A. Since 2004-05, only Buffon managed more (13), albeit in 391 games.

    This season, Szczesny's expected goals against is 5.86 through three matches. Milan counterpart Mike Maignan's figure stands at 2.33.

    When Milan refused to meet Donnarumma's demands, they wasted little time turning to Maignan, who had just led Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title after upstaging PSG.

    Maignan has been a steady presence in Milan with a joint-league-high two clean sheets, while the France international tops the list in save percentage (90), well ahead of Szczesny (66.67).

     

    Kjaer spearheading Milan back to summit

    While Juve duo Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt lick their wounds, Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori continue to flex their muscles at San Siro.

    In the era of three points per win, Milan have won each of their first four Serie A seasonal games only twice: in 1995-96 under Fabio Capello and last season with Stefano Pioli at the helm. The Rossoneri won the title in 1996, while they finished second to Inter in 2020-21.

    High-flying Milan are on the cusp of matching that feat thanks to the help of Kjaer and Tomori and perhaps even more than that as the resurgent powerhouse dream of a first Scudetto since 2011.

    Kjaer and Tomori have formed an unlikely but rock-solid partnership at the heart of Milan's defence. Pioli's side have only conceded one goal to start the Serie A season. Since last May, Milan have the most clean sheets in the big five European leagues (seven in eight matches).

    The pair's form has left captain Alessio Romagnoli sidelined and considering his future – not something you would have anticipated when Kjaer arrived following a brief spell at Atalanta, initially on loan in 2020.

    Kjaer has come into his own in Milan, establishing himself as a key member on and off the pitch under Pioli, tallying 178 clearances in the league since January 2020 – a number only behind Torino's Bremer (219), Omar Colley of Sampdoria (214), Fiorentina star Nikola Milenkovic (205), ex-Viola centre-back German Pezzella (191) and Lazio's Francesco Acerbi (190) among defenders.

    The 32-year-old Denmark international has also provided security in the air, with his 93 headed clearances the fourth most among defenders since January 2020, after Milenkovic (122), Bremer (119) and Colley (103).

    "It happens a lot with defenders that they kind of find their own style later on. That has happened with Simon," former Denmark international Jesper Olsen told Stats Perform.

    "You're playing at a top team and expected to do really well. We know your last game played doesn't count anymore, it's the next one. He just seems very settled."

    Tomori, who completed a permanent switch from Champions League holders Chelsea in July after impressing on loan, scored the last time these two teams met – a 3-0 victory in Turin in May.

    Milan have won two of their most recent three Serie A matches against Juventus, as many as in their previous 17 (D1 L14).

  • Rumour Has It: Barca eye Man City's Sterling, Man Utd want Rice to partner Pogba Rumour Has It: Barca eye Man City's Sterling, Man Utd want Rice to partner Pogba

    Could Raheem Sterling leave Premier League champions Manchester City?

    The Englishman has slipped down the pecking order in 2021-22.

    LaLiga giants Barcelona are reportedly ready to offer Sterling regular football.

     

    TOP STORY – BARCA INTERESTED IN STERLING

    Barcelona are targeting a loan move for Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Sport.

    Sterling has fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola this season, leading to speculation over his City future.

    The England international is reportedly open to reunion with former City team-mate Sergio Aguero at Barca.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - The Independent claims Manchester United are prioritising a move for West Ham's Declan Rice. The Red Devils are eyeing Rice to partner Paul Pogba, who himself is the subject of transfer speculation. Out of contract at the end of the season, Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.

    Lazio are interested in free agent Dani Alves following his Sao Paulo exit, reports Calciomercato. The former Barca and Juve full-back terminated his contract and reportedly met with Brazilian rivals Flamengo.

    - Fabrizio Romano says Roma are preparing a new five-year contract for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been linked with Premier League clubs.

    - Serie A champions Inter are weighing up a move for Torino defender Bremer at the end of the season, says Calciomercato. The Brazilian has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

    - According to Calciomercato, City have not given up on signing Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international forward was linked with City as well as Tottenham, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid before the transfer window closed.

    Luka Jovic is on the radar of Juventus, per Calciomercato. Jovic is out of favour at Madrid, with the Serbia international originally tipped to return to Eintracht Frankfurt on a permanent basis.

  • Tomori not thinking about Chelsea return as Milan defender dreams of Champions League title Tomori not thinking about Chelsea return as Milan defender dreams of Champions League title

    Fikayo Tomori is not considering a Chelsea return as the Milan centre-back dreams of Champions League success with the Rossoneri.

    Tomori has starred for Milan, who completed a permanent deal for the one-time England international in July following his initial loan move in 2020-21.

    The 23-year-old emerged from Chelsea's academy in 2016 before eventually leaving his boyhood club, but he is not thinking about a Stamford Bridge comeback.

    "I don't know, I love Milan, I love being here, Chelsea was a big part of my life, 15-16 years," Tomori told DAZN, with seven-time winners Milan back in the Champions League this season for the first time since 2014.

    "I think I managed to have that dream. Play at Stamford Bridge, play in the Premier League and the Champions League. Right now I am really happy in Milan.

    "We are back in the Champions League, everything is really positive, hopefully like Chelsea [who won the Champions League last season], we can win it."

    In 2021-22, Tomori has tallied 15 recoveries, 11 duels won, 12 possessions won in the defensive third, eight clearances, six interceptions, three headed clearances and six aerials won, while boasting an 87.6 passing accuracy to help Milan win their opening three Serie A fixtures.

    Tomori has formed a key partnership with Simon Kjaer at the heart of Milan's defence – the Italian giants have kept the most clean sheets in the top-five European leagues (seven in 8 matches) since May.

    Milan have only conceded one goal in three games, keeping two clean sheets in the league this term.

    Tomori and Milan travel to rivals Juventus on Sunday, aiming to make it four victories from four games to open the season.

    In the era of three points per win, Milan have won each of their first four Serie A seasonal games only twice – in 1995-96 under Fabio Capello and in 2020-21 under Stefano Pioli.

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